BY MOSES MATENGA
MEMBERS of Parliament have expressed concern over pirate taxis which they said were being allowed to operate throughout the country without hindrance, as most of them are owned by police officers.
Legislators said despite a government ban on pirate taxis, popularly known as mushika-shika, a lot of them always find their way into the city centre despite heavy police presence, which then raises questions as to how they are allowed to operate.
During the question-and-answer session, MPs grilled Home Affairs deputy minister Ruth Mavhunga-Maboyi over the issue. MDC-T legislator Joyce Makonya said most of the taxes in question were not being impounded by the police.
“Is government aware that most of those pirate taxis are owned by policemen? Some of them are driven by policemen in uniform,” Makonya claimed.
Joyce Jaja (MDC-T proportional representation MP) added: “We see small vehicles ferrying commuters and they can carry up to 12 passengers squashed inside. Are these vehicles insured, why are they operating? In the event of an accident I doubt that anyone will survive under such circumstances.”
Mavhunga-Maboyi urged people to effect citizens’ arrest on any police officer that they see driving or operating pirate taxis.
“If you see a policeman driving a pirate taxi in uniform, you are allowed to arrest them or to report them, but it is difficult to report the matter. No one is allowed to be beaten up. We are saying you must arrest them because they will be committing a crime,” Mavhunga-Maboyi said.
“They are not supposed to be driving a pirate taxi because a pirate taxi is not allowed on the streets and that policeman is committing a crime while wearing a uniform. Arrest them. It is not allowed. We do not want that.”
She said government was not aware of police officers operating pirate taxis, adding that it was important for citizens to provide that information as it was pivotal for proper investigations to take place.
“We did not know that pirate taxis belong to the policemen. I am glad that you are giving us that information and we will indeed try to investigate whether pirate taxis are owned by policemen. When I get to the office, I will talk to my minister (Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe) and ask him whether pirate taxis are owned by policemen.”
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